Supporting Vulnerable Learners via the PDG

National and Regional guidance on the implementation of the PDG [Pupil Development Grant] for educational establishments across North Wales:


This section aims to give an overview of the PDG in regards to the national agenda/requirements, the regional approach and support by the consortia and its relevance and impact on schools and settings. It will also signpost schools, settings and LAs to key strategic policies, guidance and evidence based successful practise with the aim of providing consistency in the implementation and support to schools across the region.


One of the key objectives in Our National Mission, Education in Wales, Action plan 2017–21 is to “raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and confidence.” The Welsh Government has expanded the PDG so that schools can improve on the life chances of our most deprived learners with focus on earlier intervention and supporting the most able and talented. The PDG also supports the implementation of objective 3 that refers to building “strong and inclusive schools committed to excellence, equity and well-being.”

Extended definition of the use of the PDG:

“The PDG should be used to support the needs of all children who are or have been eFSM in the previous two years or are looked after. The PDG is intended to provide support to disadvantaged learners to overcome the additional barriers that prevent those from disadvantaged backgrounds achieving their full potential.’


We know from April 2018 PDG is:

  • Allocated to support learners who are eligible for free school meals and who are educated in maintained schools;
  • Allocated to learners who are singly-registered in pupil referral units (PRUs) and education other than in school (EOTAS);
  • Allocated to eligible learners in early years settings where the Foundation Phase is delivered and
  • Looked after children (LAC) and former LAC who have been adopted from care or who are subject to a special guardianship or residence order aged 3-15

In addition the PDG will:

  • Be increased for the Early Years (EY) PDG from £600 to £700;
  • Provide a minimum allocation for all schools equivalent to one learner (£1,150)
  • be based on a simplified EYPDG formula for schools;
  • Have an expanded definition – to provide schools with the flexibility to support learners who have been e-FSM in the previous two years. See above.
  • Have guaranteed allocation levels for the next two financial years; and use 2016 school census for funding.


School Development Plan:

It is a statutory requirement for all schools in Wales to have a school development plan (SDP) in place. Welsh Government recommends that the regional education consortia support schools to use their SDP as a vehicle for planning their use of the PDG for Free School Meals where appropriate.

The PDG should be used to:

  1. Support all eFSM learners via effective early identification and tracking. This includes the more able learners.
  2. Develop staff, both teaching and support, in the use of practice such as metacognition, growth mind-set and quality feedback, that are currently viewed to be the most effective for learners from deprived backgrounds.
  3. Intervene early to address weakness, particularly in literacy and numeracy – this applies to early years but is also relevant at the start of secondary school and key transition stages.
  4. Ensure that increased resources are targeted at Key Stage 3, both in the classroom and in enrichment activities and raising aspirations, while recognising the importance of Year 11 for all learners. The Cabinet Secretary expects secondary schools to deliver an aspirational target of 60% of PDG invested in KS3 learners.
  5. Ensure that all PDG statements are published.

Schools will need to liaise with their local authority in regard to the eligibility of FSM learners and the impact of the roll out of Universal Credits.


GwE’s business plan model for PDG is fully implemented across the region and outlines how the consortia will use their knowledge of schools and research to facilitate and support the sharing of best practice and collaboration to improve learner outcomes, within a self-improving school system.

There is little doubt that a direct correlation exists between educational attainment and economic prosperity, and many of the FSM learners affected are simply not achieving their full potential across the region. While it is true that many vulnerable learners succeed in our schools, nevertheless, the performance of some groups of learners still lags too far behind the performance and achievements of others.

The regional consortia have developed a one page PDG strategy that can be implemented by schools and settings and focuses on:

  1. Accountability and Whole schools approach
  2. Early Identification & Tracking of Learners
  3. Teaching & Learning
  4. Additional Provision & Support
  5. Evaluating and measuring impact.

See copy of the PDG / Vulnerable Learners framework in the useful information section.


The Consortia’s Supporting Improvement Adviser for Wellbeing has overall responsibility for the PDG strategy and represents the region on the national PDG steering group.  The adviser will be the main point of contact for schools on effective and evidence based interventions.  For further information and support contact your link School Improvement Adviser.


The REC have a responsibility to monitor your PDG funds within the context of the school improvement agenda and in accordance with WG requirements annual support plan produced by the consortia.  In GwE your link Supporting Improvement Advisers (SIAs) and SIA for Wellbeing will have a clear set of criteria /monitoring questions to quality assure the use of the funds and its impact on vulnerable learners. This information will be used to identify successful practise in schools and identify the impact of the use of the PDG on pupil achievements. This will also identify the particular areas for improvement within the region and ensure the interventions are put in place to address them.


Schools and settings are required within the terms & condition of the PDG to publish their PDG funds and priorities on a yearly basis.   This can be done via the schools website / school prospectus or it can be sent to GwE. The schools can use their own SDP/monitoring form to share the information or complete the GwE regional template.

See copy of the PDG School template in the useful information section.

PDG Statement Template for Schools